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Editorial: Opinion roundup (June 6,2014)

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‘Walking’ school bus could reduce costs

Evansville Courier & Press

If this were the 1950s or earlier, this latest development in transporting kids to school would be regarded as a huge joke — walking.

This being the 20-teens, the revival of an idea that’s as old as school, indeed as old as feet, has been gussied up with fresh jargon — “the walking school bus.” The idea is that, under parental supervision, pupils within reasonable walking distance to their elementary school walk as a group, starting at the most distant house and picking up their classmates as they go along.


The idea of walking to school is a way of cutting school expenses and improving fitness.

Like many ideas that have the fatal disadvantage of being old ones, the walking school bus makes all kinds of sense. They are under the watchful eyes of adults they presumably already know — and just as importantly know their parents.

The walking school buses save the district on the cost of operating real school buses. By involving parents, it may even pull their neighborhoods closer together.

And what about bad weather?

The makers of outdoor gear have your kids covered — literally. The days of those bright yellow rubber raincoats that turned into mobile saunas in any temperature over 40 degrees are long gone. And so are the matching rain hats that looked like inverted buckets. And when was the last time you heard the word “galoshes?”

Hoosier canned hunting up for discussion

The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)

For more than a decade, Indiana has been struggling to resolve the issue of canned hunting — the practice of confining docile, farm-bred deer within a high-fenced “preserve” and charging visitors thousands of dollars to shoot them.

During this year’s session, the Indiana Senate fell just short of approving a measure that would have imposed a few regulations on the state’s four canned-hunting sites but would have legitimized them and perhaps encouraged the opening of others.

Imported deer could bring chronic wasting disease, an always-fatal deer malady that could devastate the legitimate hunting industry in Indiana as it has in other states. Some balance may be restored to the discussion this summer. At the request of Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, the legislature has authorized a summer study committee to look carefully at the disease issue as it relates to the four canned-hunting operations and the nearly 400 deer farms in the state.

The DNR tried to shut down canned hunting in 2005, but that effort remained in limbo until last year, when a judge in Harrison County ruled against the DNR, though an Owen County judge previously had ruled in favor of the agency.

It’s encouraging to see the legislature giving the issue more thought.

Ethnic slur not right as team nickname     

Los Angeles Times

What’s in a name? In the case of the Washington Redskins, a lot of history, and an irrefutable ethnic slur that ought to embarrass the NFL enough to finally force some action.

Citing the speed with which the NBA reacted to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racially charged remarks about African-Americans, 50 U.S. senators recently urged the NFL to put pressure on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to drop the franchise’s offensive name.

It is a slur. Defenders of the name point to an etymology that began with Native Americans calling themselves “red skins” to differentiate themselves from the European settlers, the “white skins.” Those linguistic roots, however, do not trump the evolution of the term into an ethnic slur. The National Congress of American Indians have strongly objected to the term, and as targets of the slur, they are in the best position to call it so.

Snyder should drop the offensive name.

It’s time to end ethanol fuel’s wild ride

The Providence (R.I.) Journal

Originally, the EPA required ethanol to be blended with gasoline to help reduce America’s dependence on imported oil. But that dependence has been dramatically reduced for other reasons — improved extraction techniques that have boosted domestic oil production. Say what you will about fracking, it has meant that America can care less what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries does.

Another reason offered for mandating an ethanol blend is that ethanol is regarded as friendlier to the environment. But it isn’t. As the Clean Air Task Force has noted, the expansion of corn ethanol consumption “has increased (greenhouse gas) emissions, air pollution, water pollution, and habitat destruction.”

But perhaps the most compelling reason to end Washington’s obsession with ethanol is the unintended market consequence of subsidizing the use of corn for fuel ethanol. As more corn is grown to be blended with gasoline, less is available for use in cereals and feeds. As a result, everything from tortillas to beef costs more. Raising the price of food makes life more precarious for poor and hungry people.

Corn producers won’t like hearing this kernel of truth, but the ethanol-blend mandate has been ineffective, even counterproductive.

It’s time to give it a rest.

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